Ait’ Pillar-taj [ Matriarch ]

Bobby Rogers ‘The Blacker the Berry’
Name Ait’ Pillar-taj
Age Prime
Appearance Ait’ Pillar-taj is statuesque, with gleaming skin and dark hair that is almost always worn in a very careful and precise up do. She wears bold, shimmery colors, fabrics that are rich in both color and quality, and is never seen without her formal headpiece.
Ait’ Pillar-taj is the type of woman who enters a room and grabs attention. She is never far from the bustle of activity, and whether it is her domain or not, she holds court. Her movements, the strength in her voice, the way she holds her hands, everything screams dominant matriarch, and it is a strong willed man who can go toe to toe with her.
In some light, when the sun is particularly bright or the flame particularly strong, her hair seems to gleam a very familiar molten gold.
Personality Ait’ Pillar-taj, as her namesake might suggest is a strong and powerful force in the tribe, a pillar of the community. She is a matriarch first, mother second, and nomad last: her goal has always been to make sure that the Taj tribe survives and flourishes, and every little action she takes is carefully orchestrated for this purpose.
She is cool and aloof, slightly more on the formal side, and she will never break that mask of professionalism and civility. You will not see this matriarch laugh and coddle a child, she is more than likely to be the one training and scolding them on the ways of the tribe.
Ability Ait’ Pillar-taj is a long lived Taj nomad, with superior strength and intellect, and the affinity for genetic manipulation. When she looks at you, she doesn’t see only who you are, but what you have descended from.
Attending the Checkerboard Ball

The Invitation

  • Ait’ Pillar-taj was not one to waste her time attending a networking function or a gathering: she was always present at the bicentennial Taj reunion, but that was a special occasion, one that was attended by every single member of the Taj tribe, from every end of the Nexus.
  • She was not one to waste her time on frivolties: there were younger generations, children, nieces and nephews who had been seeded across the Nexus to do just that. As the Pillar of the tribe, her duty was only to make sure the tribe flourished: that children who were lost were found, the troublemakers reprimanded, and the littlest ones with the biggest powers carefully tended to, so that they could flourish and blossom.
  • But this, there was something about this specific invitation that irked her.
  • And Ait’ Pillar-taj was not a woman who was easily irked.
  • “A Checkerboard Ball” it read. “No invite needed. But formal attire and civil behavior required.”
  • “Do we know of this Stage?” she asked the other Matriarchs, and was met with shrugs and noncommittal noises of curiosity.
  • “I know of this Baeris Kshau, a strong and tricky one.” one of the other women answered. “I was so sure she was one of us, but it turns out she is a Sanger.”
  • Another woman sighed. “A pity. Did we try to bring her into the fold?”
  • “Too much loyalty to other groups, to become a Taj.”
  • Ait’ Pillar-taj listened with half an ear as she turned the invitation in her hand. “How did this get here?”
  • A discreet little cough from the corner of the room, and the Pillar looked up to find one of the younger children (Rao, she was sure his name was) stand to attention.
  • “It materialized yesterday, Pillar-taj” he answered, dropping the formality in her name. “The Nexus is waking, and some of the activity has reached us.”
  • “We have never been active in the Nexus.”
  • “No, too many other dimensions that required our attention.”
  • “But it would not hurt, to see what is happening in this dimension.”
  • “If it is waking, there may be new … opportunities for us.”
  • “Opportunity is a polite way of putting it.”
  • The conversation died as the small group of women turned towards Ait’ Pillar-taj, expectant, waiting. She continued to turn and turn the invitation in her hand. Something of about the Nexus irked her, and this seemed to be as good an opportunity as any.
  • “I will go.” she announced. “I will see what the Nexus holds for us, and we will see if there are indeed interesting opportunities for us to pursue.”

The Rumours

  • It was the little one, the one they called Rao who followed her, his steps silent and swift, a graceful walk that kept her pace instead of the awkward scrabble so many of the children resorted to. She was tall, she was fast, and some of the little ones could not keep up.
  • “Have you heard the rumours?” he asked, his tone quiet and deferential.
  • “Of?” there were so many stories, whispers and secrets that drifted in the air. She could not be expected to keep track of each one.
  • “There are stories of a man who meddles, who creates and plays with life as if he is god.”
  • This was not a new story. “The Nexus seems to have an overly large population of geneticists.” it was something the Taj tribesmen found amusing. The little monkies so hard at work, as if they could accomplish in decades what it took the tribesmen days.
  • “He has a vain and unnecessary signature. Eyes, all of his creations have eyes of molten gold.”
  • “Not a unique color” she knew of vanity, so many gifted opportunities they had found along their journeys. “Gold is highly prized.”
  • Molten, not so different, or almost exactly like us.”
  • Ait’ Pillar-taj stopped.
  • “Rumours?”
  • Rao hesitated, coming to a stop behind the Matriarch. “I can look into it.” he offered, eager. “If I accompanied you, Pillar-taj. I could look into the source of the rumours, and separate the whispers from the truth.”
  • The annoying, irksome, meddlesome itch returned at the thought of the invitation, and the Matriarch nodded. “Pack your bags. We leave tomorrow.”

The Conversation

  • There was a very polite, very gentle knock in her mind.
  • Grandmother she answered immediately, her tone soft and deferential. Never to this woman would she use the hard carapace that she displayed to the rest of the world.
  • The Nexus? amusement in her tone. Why don’t you leave the exploring to the children?
  • It would be good for me, to see what is happening in the worlds she answered back easily, careful to hide her worries and thoughts of the vain little rumour
  • Is that all?
  • Ait’ Pillar-taj hesitated Of course, grandmother she answered easily I will update you soon, on what has been happening in the Nexus during our absence

The Taj tribe are nomadic, not quite immortal travellers who are dispersed through the Nexus as well as other pocket dimensions. They are humanoid, hard to kill, and a little bit stronger, faster, and smarter than the average mortal. They are gifted in genetic manipulation, although skills can vary from individuals. Some possess minor healing, while others are capable of seeing and altering DNA at a genetic level. All Taj tribesmen are bound by a slightly obscure code of ethics where they do not meddle with the lives of individuals, but are eager to seek out new “opportunities” to add to their data banks. It is not about creation, but collection.

The Taj tribe also have an odd genetic quirk that is dominant in all tribesmen: in the right light, their hair appears molten gold.

All Taj tribesmen follow the same naming convention: Ait’ [True Name]-taj. Matriarchs who lead the tribe have true names and also namesakes, mostly after personality traits or features. Ait’ Pillar-taj’s namesake is Pillar, due to her role in society. (They are not the most creative when it comes to namesakes).

Spoiler: Yes, that very specific shade of molten gold.